Dr Peter Brukner OAM

Inflammation: What damage is it really doing to your body?

2 mins read

When you wake in the morning, do you feel a little stiff? Maybe you think it’s just creaky bones, or you’re getting a bit older, so it’s expected that you feeling sore.

Well, it could be inflammation. And it could be doing more damage to your body than you think.

Let us explain what exactly inflammation is, and why you should take control of it.

What is inflammation?

Inflammation is the body’s immune response to injury or insult. It is part of the body’s normal healing response. The usual type of inflammation, acute inflammation, normally stays for a short (yet sometimes severe) duration. It often resolves in two weeks or less, and your body will go back to its normal state before injury or illness.

Different types of inflammation

As we mentioned, we’re all familiar with a red hot swollen joint due to acute inflammation. However what is interesting to the medical profession these days, is another type of inflammation called low grade chronic inflammation.

Many chronic diseases such as atherosclerosis, type 2 diabetes, arthritis, and even mental illness, are now thought to be associated with this low grade chronic inflammation. Much of our efforts to combat these diseases are therefore aimed at preventing and reducing this chronic inflammation.

What lifestyle factors contribute to inflammation?

We know there are a number of lifestyle factors associated with chronic inflammation. These include smoking, alcohol, sedentary behaviour, stress, and poor sleep. The two most important factors associated with chronic inflammation are poor diet and visceral obesity.

We now know there are a number of dietary factors which increase inflammation too. These are sugar and other processed carbohydrates, and vegetable or seed oils.

Interestingly this combination of processed carbohydrates and vegetable oils is present in most junk foods. The vegetable oils contain Omega-6 fats which are essential for the body, but when consumed in excess, in particular compared to the omega-3 fats contained in foods such as fatty fish, do significant harm through inflammation.

The same dietary factors associated with this inflammation are also associated with obesity. In particular, the form of obesity known as visceral obesity, which is the fat that accumulates around our organs especially in the abdomen.

So we have a double whammy – the foods causing inflammation, and the same foods causing visceral obesity which in turn adds to the inflammation.

What is the solution?

As well as addressing the other lifestyle factors mentioned above, an anti-inflammatory diet can make a huge difference to these chronic diseases.

This anti-inflammatory diet significantly reduces the amount of sugars, starches and processed carbohydrates as well as eliminating vegetable oils.

In practical terms, that means avoiding sources of sugar such as soft drinks, fruit juices, energy drinks and flavoured milks, as well as the hidden causes of excessive sugar intake. We know that 80% of processed foods contain added sugar, and even foods that we have always considered to be healthy such as fruit yoghurts, muesli bars and sauces contain sugar which in turn increases the amount of inflammation.

The diet described in our Defeat Diabetes Program, as well as being a low carbohydrate diet , is also an anti-inflammatory diet and can have dramatic effects on those chronic diseases associated with chronic inflammation.

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